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Wednesday, 11 October 1972
Page: 1452


Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Minister for Air) - Let me say to Senator O'Byrne that I believe that the war service land settlement scheme as a whole has been a very well conducted and a well thought out scheme. It has been of great value to many families in Australia. I recognise that problems have occurred in some areas. But I recall that, since I became a member of the Senate, Ministers for Primary Industry together with their departmental officers have inspected these holdings and studied these problems on a number of occasions. I know from my own experience in Western Australia that Commonwealth departmental officers together with Commonwealth Ministers for Primary Industry over a period have met with their State counterparts and have visited the project areas. They have walked over the properties and have gone out of their way to assist these people in whatever way they can assist them. Because of depressed prices for primary products last year, people on Kangaroo Island and in other areas of Australia who are involved in the war service land settlement scheme are finding it difficult to meet their commitments. So the Government has tried to help them.

In reply to the second reading debate I referred to the scientific investigations which had been carried out and to the assistance that has been given to farmers. Some 600 breeding ewes were used as a sort of a trial to speed up the scientific investigations. Mr Chairman, you must have smiled when Senator O'Byrne was talking about farmers who had bungled because of clover disease.


Senator O'Byrne - It was not the farmers who bungled but the people who advised them.


Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - The war service land settlerent people?


Senator O'Byrne - Yes.


Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Clover disease has been prevalent in Western Australia for lengthy periods and respected farmers - men of great experience - have had lambings as low as 25 per cent because of the clover problem. That is why I referred to the Chairman. He lives in a very dense clover area and he has been confronted with many problems over the years. His background and scientific knowledge probably stand him in much better stead than is the case with some other farmers. But there has been no bungling in regard to the war service land settlement scheme. This is a problem which all breeders have struck when they have gone into clover areas in order to endeavour to breed sheep. There is a density of clover on Kangaroo Island, and the settlers there have run into problems, as have other farmers. The Department is trying to assist these men to overcome the problems. Because of the falling value of primary products, the Government has allowed a partial remission of rents to the settlers. It also has helped them by providing fodder conservation facilities and an interest rate of 3¾ per cent on money which they have borrowed. Surely that must be a great advantage over another fanner who is paying 6½ per cent interest on money which he has borrowed in order to build haysheds, grain silos and so on. So I do not believe that the bungling to which Senator O'Byrne referred is factual.


Senator O'Byrne - You have admitted it in the amount of money which you have allocated for research and for trying to get them out of their present position. There is something along the line which makes it unsuitable.


Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Senator O'ByrneandI differ in our approach, and I accept that, but I will not accept the fact that the war service land settlement people have bungled because I know from my own experience the assistance that has been given to the settlers. I will admit that there have been isolated cases. Sometimes the settler himself has not had the background or farming experienceas he has just not been capable of conducting that type of a business. I think I have covered the points raised by honourable senators.







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